The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided additional guidance about the adjudication of spousal petitions involving minors.
The guidance instructs USCIS officers to conduct an additional interview for certain I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. In general, the bona fides nature of the spousal relationship is assessed in person by a USCIS officer when the alien spouse applies to adjust status, or by the Department of State when the alien spouse applies for an immigrant visa. However, I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor party warrant special considerations because of the vulnerabilities associated with marriage involving a minor. Because of this, USCIS has provided this latest guidance to modify its policy to require in-person interviews at an earlier stage for certain I-130 petitions that involve minor spouses. Doing an in-person interview at an earlier stage provides USCIS an additional opportunity to verify information contained in the petition and assess the bona fides of the spousal relationship. The following I-130 spousal petitions will now require interviews as part of the adjudication:
- The petitioner or the beneficiary is less than 16 years old; or
- The petitioner or the beneficiary is 16 or 17 years old and there are 10 years or more difference between the ages of the spouses.
Earlier this year, USCIS published guidance detailing factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. USCIS may also use its discretion to issue a request for evidence where appropriate. The burden is generally on the petitioner to demonstrate the validity of the petition and the bona fides of their spousal relationship. USCIS has also created a flagging system that sends an alert in an electronic system at the time of filing if a minor spouse or fiancé is detected. After the initial flag, the petition is sent to a special unit that verifies that the age and relationship listed are correct before the petition is accepted. If the age or classification on the petition is incorrect, the petition will be returned to the petitioner for correction.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any further questions regarding this matter.